Opening the door to digital


Posted on21 Jul 2020

Lockdown is challenging us to find new virtual ways to connect to each other, to our friends and relatives and to sources of support. Many of us are using technology in new ways or for the first time and becoming very familiar with words like ‘facetime’, ‘zoom’ or ‘what’s app’.

As a social change organisation, JRHT is concerned about the growing ‘digital divide’ which has seen many, particularly older people, people with a disability and low income families cut adrift from vital support through a lack of access to the internet. A digital connection has become a fourth utility, as essential as gas, electricity and water. Everyone should be able to afford digital access without the risk of being pulled into poverty. This is why JRHT staff and residents have been working together to open the door to a brave new world. Here are some of the ways we’ve been doing digital…

A tablet helps Eileen to lip read as she skypes her grandson

Doing Digital

Swapping dongles for dabbers has been the order of the day at Hartfields retirement village in Hartlepool with fun and games through socially distanced bingo. Keeping in touch with friends and relatives is a real bonus during lockdown, and many at sites including Plaxton Court in Scarborough have discovered the joys of video chats.

Amanda Sedgewick Plaxton Court Manager explains - ‘Eileen, pictured above, was struggling to see her grandson as she initially tried the call on her family member’s mobile. She relies on lip-reading so was overjoyed when we were able to assist with the tablet and she could see him in a larger format’

Getting a weekly shop delivered has been the focus for some residents cut off from their usual shopping routes who have discovered online shopping with help from JRHT’s Customer Service team, and the vital job of making sure no-one is missing out on money they are entitled to has brought residents together digitally with our Money and Benefits Adviser, Martin Bell.

Chris Simpson, Executive Director has also been able to listen to residents’ views and talk through priorities for restarting JRHT services via Teams.

Residents share their views and experiences with Chris Simpson, Executive Director

Working to get People Online

In Hartlepool, the Action Lab team is working with partners in the town on ‘Get Connected’, a project to bridge the divide by using kit and connectivity to help learn new skills, make social links, access savings and income and connect up to key sources of support.

We know that the internet isn’t for everyone. There can be plenty of worries – who can see my information, what will happen if I press the wrong button, what could it cost, will I forget the password? We also know that the benefits, if things are done thoughtfully and safely, can be huge – seeing friends, having fun, taking part, shopping, banking, paying the rent, finding better energy deals, getting the money you’re entitled to.

We can Help

So, if you’re wondering about opening the door to digital, but have a few questions you’d like to ask or worries you’d like to talk through, do have a chat with a member of JRHT staff – they may have the answers to your questions or if not, be able to put you in touch with someone who can help.